Nature at risk as EU haggles over recovery funds
2 min read

Nature at risk as EU haggles over recovery funds

The EU Commission and Council must support the Parliament’s proposal to dedicate a share of recovery money to biodiversity

What’s happening?
On 8 December, the EU institutions will meet for crucial talks for nature as they try and finalise the biggest pandemic recovery fund, the EUR 672.5 billion ‘Recovery and Resilience Facility’. Alarmingly, there is a risk that Europe’s biodiversity draws the short straw, with the most forward-looking proposals dropped in the name of political compromise. This  would be a devastating blow to the EU Green Deal and a sustainable future economy.

What is at stake?
The most sticky issue is on climate and biodiversity spending. The European Parliament supports a 40% climate and biodiversity spending target for each national Recovery and Resilience Plan. However both the EU Council and Commission have so far stuck to a 37% climate-only spending target. The ‘Green 10’ NGOs - which include WWF, Birdlife, and Greenpeace - have written to the Council and Commission to ask them to endorse the Parliament’s 40% climate and biodiversity spending target for each national plan, as a minimum.

Ester Asin, Director of WWF European Policy Office said:
"The EU Green Deal finally put biodiversity at the heart of policy making. The next few days will be the litmus test. Will the EU Commission and Council support the Parliament’s proposal to dedicate a modest share of recovery money to biodiversity? It’s a drop in the ocean compared to the whole recovery, but could be a life raft for our threatened nature.”

Dedicated biodiversity funding could be spent on nature restoration and management of protected areas, amongst other projects. As well as providing a vital boost to Europe’s nature and helping tackle climate change, such projects would create local jobs and boost the green economy.

Other crucial issues for WWF:

  • Whether the climate and environment spending is tracked using the EU Taxonomy, as supported by the EU Parliament. The Council wants to stick to the obsolete ‘Rio markers’ methodology, which has been severely criticised by the European Court of Auditors for inflating figures. The Commission has promised a new methodology but is stuck in internal technical discussions - though it could possibly propose a compromise to move forward and broker a deal.  

In WWF’s view, the EU Taxonomy - while the proposals so far are by no means perfect - is the best tool for the job. A future methodology should be built based on EU Taxonomy criteria when they become gradually available, in 2021 and 2022.

  • Whether the 'Do No Significant Harm' principle is implemented through guidelines based on the EU Taxonomy. The Parliament has asked for Commission guidelines; the Council is supportive of the principle but does not want to use the EU taxonomy criteria, making the principle an empty box; the Commission is developing guidelines but how they would apply and what they might include is still totally unclear.

In WWF’s view, the EU Commission’s guidelines operationalising the Do No Significant Harm (DNSH) principle must use the EU taxonomy DNSH criteria wherever they are available.

  • Ensuring that the national Recovery and Resilience plans are drawn up transparently, applying the partnership principle and with civil society’s input.

Sébastien Godinot
Economist, WWF European Policy Office
+32 489 46 13 14

Sarah Azau
Media Manager, WWF European Policy Office
+32 473 57 31 37

© Natura 2000

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